Jeremy's Reviews > A Most Wanted Man

A Most Wanted Man by John le Carré
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Jun 20, 12

Read in June, 2012

Caveat emptor: this review is mildly spoilery, in a broad, non-specific way.

John Le Carre does a lot of things very well, like create dense, fascinating plots, and characters that are interesting and feel complex and plausible. A Most Wanted Man has all of that, but I found myself dissatisfied at the very end. Not in the cynical, Le Carre-ian way, where you come to realize that nothing truly positive can come from international intelligence operations (though there was some of that, for sure), but rather in the way he characterized American intelligence operatives as arrogant assholes who do whatever they feel like, everybody else's feelings be damned, and ethics can take a hike, too.

I'm not saying that's an inaccurate portrayal. It likely is, at least in some cases. But it's also lazy and uninteresting and trite. What's more, as an American, I want to see at least complex portrayals of American characters (well, I want to see it in all characters, Americans included), if not positive ones. Simply showing up around the edges of the story being vaguely menacing, then swooping in and effing everybody over, spouting phrases like "ass-kicking justice" like some sort of cartoon isn't enough.

It's frustrating, because Le Carre is so very good at nuance. Everybody's good and everybody's bad. Usually. Just not here.
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